Growing up as a Third Culture Kid, I never really identified with my home country. I celebrated the holidays of my host country or my school’s country. I grew up in Mexico City and went to a British school. I celebrated the Queen’s Birthday, and Mexico’s Independence day on the 16th of September, and of course the Day of the Dead. I didn’t feel nationalistic about anyplace but was happy to celebrate with everybody. I don’t ever remember celebrating the 4th of July although I do remember dressing up on Halloween a few times. I just didn’t have anything to identify with. I knew very little of US history and even less of its culture.
When I went to live in the US after high school, I was in for a rude awakening and had severe reverse culture shock. It wasn’t until my Junior year in college that I started to learn about the USA. I was living in Boston and a friend took me under wing and taught me about the history of the area and the people who lived there. For the first time I started to feel something for my home country.
The longer I stayed in my home country the more comfortable I became. As I moved from state to state I leaned new things about its diversity. I learned about the holidays and what they stood for. And I learned to criticize what I didn’t like about it.
I continued to travel outside the country with a slightly new perspective. I started to compare other countries to my own and see what the differences and similarities were. I started to appreciate things. I saw that compared to many countries, women in the US were much better off. I learned how important freedom of speech really was. Although this country had a lot of problems and I didn’t always agree with what our government did, I always had the right to express my dissatisfaction openly.
As I grew older, when living overseas, I could be very critical of the US and their foreign policy and many of their actions. But when Fourth of July came around, I always cried overcome by emotion when I heard the Star Spangled Banner.
It is Cherry Blossom Festival time in DC once again. I went down to take a few photos with the masses. I didn’t realize it was parade day but I still managed to fight the crowds and get a few good pictures.
In 1912 the Japanese government gave the USA over 2000 cherry blossom trees. Between 1913 and 1920 they were planted all around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC. Today there are 3,570 trees around the basin and in neighboring parks.
I ran out of time this week and didn’t manage my usual wonders in the kitchen. But I did run across an interesting cookbook:
The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book
Edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, 1944
There is a handwritten note in the inside that says:
War – 1942
Will He come back to marry me?
I love this photo: The Machine Beats Time As Well As Batter While You Supply The Brain That Makes The Cake.
½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
4 egg yolks, beaten light
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
½ cup sliced blanched almonds
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Cream shortening; beat in sugar and salt, then egg yolks, vanilla, milk and flour (sifted with baking powder). Spread mixture in 2 round greased cake pans. Beat egg whites until very light, add ¾ cup sugar gradually and spread on the un-baked mixture in both pans. Sprinkle with almonds, 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) about 30 minutes. Let cool and put together with cream filling. Makes 1 (9-inch) 2 layer cake.
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
2 tbsps butter
2 cups milk, scalded
1 tsp vanilla
Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks; beat thoroughly. Add butter and enough milk to make a smooth paste. Add paste to remaining hot milk and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Cool and add vanilla. If desired add ½ cup chopped nut meats.
My other award comes from Jumble, An American woman living in China. It is the The Super Sweet Blogging Award. Not sure if I got it because I am so sweet or because of my Food Friday. I’m sure it was both! 🙂 Thank you, Ms Jumble!!
This one comes with questions:
1) Cookie or cake? Chocolate chip cookies, of course!
2) Chocolate or vanilla? Is that a choice? Chocolate all the way.
3) What is your favorite sweet treat? Dark chocolate truffles
4) When do you crave sweet things the most? The holidays!!
5) If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Dulcinea
And now, drum roll….
This one goes to Maggie at Fly Away Home Book, A New Jersey girl living in Norway. She is very sweet and currently sitting under a ton of snow.
Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back quickly, to cope with stress and adversity. According to some people Third Culture Kids are very resilient. I never thought of myself that way. I just dealt with things as they came up and moved on. It was like being on auto pilot.
When I landed in a country I had never been to before and there was nobody to meet me at the airport, I didn’t hesitate at all. I changed money and went looking for some kind of transportation. I wasn’t going to sit around worrying about it. Although, had I sat around for a while, I might have seen my father come looking for me instead of missing him as we crossed paths.
When I went to boarding school at 13 and people thought I was weird I did whine about it a little. But I moved on. I slowly figured out that I needed to adapt and try to fit in. I was young for my age and had lived overseas all my life. I landed in the USA in the middle of a cultural revolution I knew very little about. I absorbed all the information I could and not only did I adapt to it all but I embraced it.
When we moved to Africa a few years later and I went off to boarding school in Switzerland, I was prepared to live away from home and up on world topics. I was ahead of the curve.
Once again it all broke down when I went to college in the USA. I was too international now. I had to rein it in and become more local. I had to adapt to another culture. I was so used to discussing travel, European art, and world politics with my peers that I didn’t think before I opened my mouth and blabbed about my high school experiences. My new peers could not relate and thought I was bragging.
My new persona emerged and I was quiet inside my shell for a long time. No more story telling here. But I managed to eventually adapt to that as well. I made friends and existed on a different level. I became one of them.
So who was I? How could I find myself and figure out what I should be doing? All I wanted to do was get out of town. To move on. That’s what I had always done, wasn’t it? Just dealt with the immediate problem and moved on. I didn’t know why. I never really thought about it that much. I just knew I was not comfortable. I was searching for something but didn’t know what it was. I was living between cultures. I didn’t feel American but I didn’t feel Mexican or Colombian or Nigerian, or Swiss. I was unique, I was different.
Years later I learned I was a Third Culture Kid – somebody who grew up in a culture not their own. I discovered I was not the only one who felt this way. Norma McCaig of Global Nomads wrote:
The benefits of this upbringing need to be underscored: In an era when global vision is an imperative, when skills in intercultural communication, linguistic ability, mediation, diplomacy, and the management of diversity are critical, global nomads are better equipped in these areas by the age of eighteen than are many adults… These intercultural and linguistic skills are the markings of the cultural chameleon — the young participant-observer who takes note of verbal and nonverbal cues and readjusts accordingly, taking enough of the coloration of the social surroundings to gain acceptance while maintaining some vestige of identity as a different animal, an “other.”
I wish I had read that when I was eighteen! 🙂
Does knowing all of this solve my restlessness, make me more comfortable? No, it doesn’t solve it but it helps me understand it. I know what it is and why I am the way I am. It isn’t a bad thing. But as I grow older, I think I have become less tolerant of ignorant people. If somebody doesn’t know where France is or hates Muslims, or thinks Berlusconi is a type of pasta, I just don’t really bother to put any effort out. I let it go. When I was younger, I would try to educate or sometimes I would just brush it aside and try to make myself acceptable to them. I don’t do that anymore. I move on.
I recently published a book about all my trials and tribulations, joys and challenges and adventures growing up all over the world. But it was not easy. I spent a lot of time writing with tears streaming down my face. I suppose I need deep psycho therapy to figure that out. But when it was all done. I felt better. Something had been resolved. I had accomplished what I set out to do and I felt positive. I still do. Although I am now facing another hurdle. Being single for the first time in many years. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad one. Oh, well. I guess I will just have to deal with it and move on….
It is almost Thanksgiving Day in the USA. I think it is the most important holiday we have. It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. It is the one day a year this big melting pot comes together on common ground and takes a moment to reflect on all the things they have and should be thankful for. They don’t all eat Turkey, they don’t all watch Football, they don’t all have big families surrounding them, but they all have something to be thankful for, even if it is something small. And this day should remind them of that.
One thing I am thankful for is this blog and all the fellow bloggers I have come in contact with over the past 8 months. I love writing little stories and reading other people’s pieces. I am only sorry I don’t have time to read as much as I would like. There is so much interesting stuff out there!!
Maggie at Fly Away Home was one of my first followers and she has been very supportive all the way through. I have enjoyed reading about her life in Norway and growing up on the New Jersey shore. Her book, Fly Away Home, is great! Check it out.
Maggie has now bestowed the Blog of the Year 2012 Award on me. Thank you, Maggie!
Well, it has been an interesting year.
I started my blog with my new Mantra: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
I have written 109 posts about growing up TCK, travel, genealogy, my current life, and various other miscellaneous things that popped into my head. I started a Food Friday blog that brought me back to my love of cooking. And, I published my memoir, Expat Alien.
Plus I had my gallbladder removed!! (Thank you all for your comments and best wishes!)
I have a lot to be thankful for.
I am passing this award to:
Wanderlust Gene – because her beautiful photos are other-worldly and transport me to far away places
I went to a British grade school in Mexico City. We wore a uniform. It was a grey skirt, shorts or trousers for the boys, white sox, black shoes, a white shirt, a green tie (both girls and boys) and a green blazer with the crest of the school sewn on the upper left hand pocket. My brother used to get into trouble because his badge kept getting ripped and he would take it off. That crest had to be on there. I learned to tie my own tie at 7 years old. Some kids wore clip-ons but most of us tied our own.
In November my first year, kids started showing up with red paper poppies pinned to the lapel of their blazers. I had never heard of Poppy Day but I loved the color added to the otherwise mundane clothing. I bought one and wore it even though I didn’t understand why. I looked forward to it every year. That splash of red.
When I was working at the British Embassy in Moscow, I saw people wearing poppies on their lapels and it took me right back to school in Mexico. I had forgotten all about those red paper poppies.
Recently I have been watching the BBC to give me a more worldly perspective on the news. And lately they are wearing poppies. I have poppies on the brain.
It was the 11th month, 11th day, 11th hour when hostilities ended. It was the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars. Poppies bloomed all across the fields where the battles were fought and lives were lost. A sea of red.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lieutenant Coronel John McCrae, 1919
Also known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day, it is honored around the world in different ways.
In the USA poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans in Veteran Hospitals. The poppies are given in exchange for contributions. The contributions provide financial assistance in maintaining these veterans’ rehabilitation and service facilities as well as the Verterans’ of Foreign War National Home for orphans and widows of the nation’s veterans. They aren’t as common here as they are in Britain but you can find them. Wear your poppy proudly!
I voted but it wasn’t easy. I left my house at 6:30 thinking I would get there early. It took me 20 minutes to find a parking place. As I walked to the polling station, a Middle Eastern man asked me in broken English, “This way to the President?” I answered, “Yes! This way!”
I waited in line for about 15 minutes outside in the cold. Behind me were a couple who spoke loud Italian the whole time we were in line. Two people ahead of me was the exact same Indian guy who had been ahead of me four years ago. I guess we were on the same schedule. I could hear many different languages being spoken and all kinds of people were in line. Black, White, Brown, old, thin, fat, young, disabled, happy, pensive. Once I got inside the building, I thought to myself, this isn’t too bad. The line went down to the end of the hallway and back. I figured about half an hour.
When I reach the first turn, I saw another long hallway with people lined up all the way down and back. When I reached the end of that hallway, there was another one. I figured there were about 500 people in front of me and probably more behind me. It took me two and a half hours to vote.
Nobody complained. People were calm and quiet. They joked about the line. They greeted neighbors they new. They smiled. Some had their children with them. One family brought their first time 18 year old voter with them. People said things like, I can wait in line once every four years, no problem. It is worth it.
I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot! It is full of literary references and historical anecdotes along with beautifully written images of life in a small New Zealand village.
The reason I mention this is, of course, Sandy. Water. It seems apropos.
It has rained for three days. Wind and water.
Leading up to this major historical event, I stopped by the store thinking I should probably get some batteries for my flashlight, just in case. By some miracle, I happened upon the last packet of “D” batteries in the store. I later saw a news report on batteries, “D” batteries were nowhere to be found. I had been lucky.
I wandered around the store and picked up a few more items, just in case. Of course wine was a top priority but, on my way, I stopped by the bread aisle. Interestingly enough, all the white bread was sold out. Only whole wheat and “healthy” bread remained. Made me laugh. There was plenty of “my” bread left so I bought a loaf, just in case.
My son hauled the cooler out of the closet, just in case. I made extra ice, just in case.
I charged up my iPhone backup battery, and filled up my Brita water jugs. Just in case.
We hunkered down.
Schools, closed. Federal Government, closed. Public transportation, closed. My office, closed (although expected to work from home – ahh, modern technology!).
We watched Obama return to the White House. He was right there in the middle of it all. We watched the weather channel, and CNN. And just to break it up a bit, we watched and old Bond movie with Sean Connery.
The wind started up after dark and remained fierce for several hours. We have some downed trees in the area and we are soggy.
But we never lost power. We were lucky. Our elected officials did what they were supposed to do, our public employees did what they were supposed to do, mostly people listened, and we were lucky.
And in-between news reports, Valerie Davies got me through.
Jamestown: The first permanent Colony of the English People. The Birthplace of Virginia and the United States of America, 1607
I spent the weekend visiting my cousins in Williamsburg. One afternoon was devoted to Colonial National Historical Park: Jamestown. A large African American park ranger named Jerome showed us around. He told us the three most important facts about Jamestown were: it was the first permanent settlement of the English in the New World (1607); the first representative assembly talks took place in 1619 where 22 elected burgesses met in the church; and the first Africans arrived in 1619. Therefore concluding that this very spot was the birthplace of the great country – The United States of America.
I had a small chuckle over this one since, of course, part of this great history was that the Native population was virtually killed off pretty quickly and by 1690 there were 9,300 enslaved Africans among a white population of 53,000. But why dwell on the negative?
These crazy Englishmen set up camp on an island with a swamp on one side and a salty river on the other. No fresh water. The swamp provided lovely benefits such as malaria and typhoid. By 1609 there were about 300 men living on this island, fighting off skirmishes from the Powhatan tribes. That winter was particularly rough and at the end of it only 60 survived. But they didn’t give up. Ninety unmarried women arrive in 1619 to boost morale.
We also learned that the 12 year old Pocahontas did not have an affair with the 27 year old John Smith (despite what Disney says). But they did probably know each other. The settlers eventually figured it all out and started growing tobacco. They were soon rich farmers with a huge market and very few expenses. John Rolfe cultivated a strain of tobacco that was pleasing to the English. He used seed he had obtained from Trinidad since the local variety was deemed too harsh. John Rolfe was the man who married Pocahontas.
Pocahontas as Rebecca, married English woman
Up until 1994, it was believed that the site had been reclaimed by the river and was lost under water. An archeologist by the name of William Kelso did not believe it. According to historical documents, the church was built inside the fort. The church tower remained on the island in clear site. In 1994, Mr. Kelso took a shovel to the site and soon found artifacts, bones, and evidence of the exact area where the walls of the fort were built. Today you can see them reconstructed in the very holes the men dug 400 years ago. William Kelso became an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire at a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, in July 2012.